SBI Youth for India
SBI Youth for India (SBI YFI) is an Indian rural fellowship programme initiated, funded and managed by the State Bank of India (SBI) in partnership with reputed NGOs. It provides a framework for India's bright young minds to join hands with rural communities, empathise with their struggles and connect with their aspirations. The selected fellows work with experienced NGOs on challenging grass root development projects.
The fellowship is an initiative to sensitize & provide avenues for the more privileged sections to become aware of ground realities and contribute through their personal efforts towards building strong cohesive communities; a pre-requisite for a stable socio-political environment, which in turn would lead to economic regeneration. The focus of the fellowship has been in generating interest of the educated youth towards the social sector and in incubating the spirit of social entrepreneurship.
The SBI Youth for India Fellowship was launched on 1 March 2011, in partnership with three reputed NGOs: M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, BAIF Development Research Foundation and Seva Mandir. All the three NGOs have more than two decades of experience in the development sector.
The fellowship and its work has been appreciated by eminent personalities like Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (ex-President of India), Mr. Ratan Tata (Chairman, Tata Group), D.S. Subbarao (Governor, Reserve Bank of India), Mrs. Rajashree Birla (Director of the Aditya Birla Group of Companies), Mr. O. P. Bhatt (Chairman, State Bank of India), and Professor M.S. Swaminathan (the proponent of the Green Revolution in India) amongst others.
Over 55% of the Indian population is below the age of 25 indicating the extent of energy, enthusiasm and idealism that can be harnessed. The mainstream career trend of young university passouts looking for climbing up the corporate ladder fast or to go abroad, has alienated the youth from participating in nation building activities. As a result, their value system has made them materialistic in their outlook and they feel helpless & frustrated about their inability to act as change agents in society & find a higher purpose for their lives.
On the other hand, economic liberalization & the growth in GDP have apparently not touched 70% of the Indian population. The declining agricultural productivity, falling employment opportunities in agricultural and non-farm sectors, poor healthcare services and inability to access quality elementary and higher education has enhanced poverty and distress amongst one third of the rural population.
To bridge the widening urban-rural divide and to organize & galvanize the youth, particularly the urban educated youth, so that they voluntarily get involved in various developmental projects in rural areas, requires a well-structured platform like Peace Corps or AmeriCorps to enable volunteers to spend a brief period, doing development work with underprivileged sections of society before taking up their chosen profession.
In India, there are several NGOs engaged in development work in rural areas but the average youth cannot access the avenues of volunteer work without long term commitment for lack of any organised, short-term programme for recruiting volunteers at the national level. The SBI Youth for India program fills in this gap - the fellows can contribute to social work through a sabbatical experience and get back into the mainstream, if they choose to.
Objectives of the program
The Programme seeks to help India secure an equitable and sustainable growth path by:
- Providing educated Indian youth with an opportunity to touch lives and create positive change at the grass root level in rural India.
- Providing NGOs working on development projects in rural India with educated manpower whose skill sets can be used to catalyze rural development.
- Promoting a forum for the Programme alumni to share ideas and contribute to rural development throughout their professional life.
The SBI Youth for India Fellows
The Fellows range between 20–35 years of age and they come from all parts of India. Adequate representation of all geographical regions of the country and of gender is achieved through a stringent selection criterion that ensures the quality of the fellows with only approximately 1 out of every 100 applicants being selected. The SBI Youth for India fellows are all graduates or postgraduates including alumni of eminent institutes such as the Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management, BITS - Pilani, NIFT, CEPT University, foreign universities and others. Most of the professionals have an engineering or management background although there are many with diverse background in biotechnology, urban planning, law, mathematics, and agricultural science. The Fellows have worked in a range of sectors including information technology, education, infrastructure, non-profit, healthcare and others and at leading organisations such as Tata Group, Cap Gemini, IBM, Mindtree, among many others.
The flagship batch of the fellowship had 27 fellows selected out of about 4000 applicants, who worked for a year on various projects in the areas of agricultural supply chain and linkages, education, public policy and awareness, rural tourism, tribal development and environment in eight states and union territories (namely, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Orissa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry).
Every SBI Youth For India Fellow has the responsibility of ensuring that his project makes a positive impact on the community. It begins by planning a project, defining the expected outcomes and laying the road map to achieve it, with guidance of the mentors from partner NGOs.
This program has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for every Fellow. Many of the Fellows have rethought about their lives and changed their career paths to do their part for the development of society.
Other Fellowship in India
ICICI foundation of ICICI Bank had started 2 years fellowship program in year 2010, continued in 2011 and selections are underway for ICICI Fellows 2012. Reliance Foundation of RIL had also started the DARE fellowship in 2011. Recently in 2012, Prime Minister Rural Development Fellowship(PMRDF) has also been started with the help of TISS by Ministry of Rural Development, India to promote the youth involvement in Country's major problems.
India has seen some corporates are coming forward to provide a platform to the Youth to understand and participate in country's development.
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- SBI Youth for India Official Site
- Blog on Background of SBI YFI Fellows
- Official Video Documenting the Experiences of SBI YFI Fellows
- Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group on SBI YFI
- O.P. Bhatt, Chairman, State Bank of India on SBI YFIWork of SBI YFI Fellow on NREGA Awareness
- Work of SBI YFI Fellow on Education
- Work of SBI YFI Fellow on BioVillage Model
- Project-Synopsis of SBI YFI Fellows
- Experiences of SBI YFI Fellows